Creating knowledge – But how? Our highlights of the BerGSAS PhD workshop “METHOD MATTERS” 2022
Von Cataria Fahrendholz
As young researchers, we often know what we want to find out and we may even have some possible results in mind. But what we sometimes struggle with, is how to get there – in a way that is solid, transparent and that other researchers can follow. At this year’s BerGSAS PhD Workshop “Method Matters”, doctoral candidates from the fields of archaeology, art history, and linguistics came together to discuss methodological issues surrounding their research.
There could have not been a better start to the discussion for us than the highly motivating, entertaining, and authentic opening lecture by our guest speaker Dr. Julian Plenefisch from the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Having already successfully worked through a dissertation himself, he knew exactly what tone and content to captivate us with when he gave a talk on “The Sorrows and Joys of PhD students.”
After that, we started with our presentations, where everyone had the opportunity to present their current research and methodological aspects related to it. It was a good occasion to reflect on what could and could not be achieved with the method we have chosen. We then ended the day with a fun round of quizzes.
On the second day we visited the Humboldt Forum, where our dear colleague Lu Tian guided us through the world of Buddhist art. We gained insights into the widespread network of ancient Silk Roads and had time to discuss not only the curation of the collection and its visual design, but also the conception of the museum and the form of knowledge transfer. The last walk took us to the roof terrace of the building, from where we could enjoy a panoramic view: Of the city, but also of the two days that lay behind us, full of intense, critical, and enlightening conversations. What have we learned, what can we keep for our future?
First, method is a tool. It faces all who work scientifically and there is nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary, if we learn how to use it, it can help us to systematically work through our material to create new knowledge. This leads us to a second point. Do not neglect your material. It is the one to which we apply the method, and it indicates which path is suitable. One last thing we all agreed on came more or less naturally from the interdisciplinary group composition itself, where we all focus on the ancient Silk Roads, but everyone has an individual research topic. We have found that it is not only helpful but also necessary to include as many different perspectives and languages as possible into our research. Only in this way can we as scientists understand a topic in all its depth and communicate it to a wider audience.